New Study Finds Fewer Cases of Food-Borne Illness

Dec 15, 2010 at 12:00 pm
click to enlarge E. coli (and other pathogens): Fewer cases, still deadly.
E. coli (and other pathogens): Fewer cases, still deadly.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has lowered its estimate of the annual number of cases of food-borne illness in America, the New York Times reports. This new estimate reckons that each year 48 million people suffer from food poisoning, over 3,000 of whom die. The previous CDC estimate, from 1999, estimated those numbers at 76 million cases and over 5,000 deaths.

Good news, right?

Not exactly. This is more about statistics than safer food:
The new numbers don't necessarily mean there is less food poisoning. They simply mean that scientists think they can now do a better job of guessing how many illnesses actually occur. Government scientists said the new estimate should be viewed as the more accurate guess based on better information. The revision means that one in six Americans gets sick each year from tainted food, not one in four, as the old study had it.
An interesting tidbit from the CDC study that includes the estimate: Of the pathogens that cause food poisoning, only one-fifth have been identified by scientists.

Now: Who wants lunch?